(January 28) Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced a $1.4 billion loan to car-maker Nissan for retooling their factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, to manufacture the EV Leaf and for constructing a new facility to build advanced batteries for the cars. The new factories are expected to produce 150,000 cars and 200,000 battery packs a year.
Chu added that the project will provide as many as 1,300 new jobs in Tennessee.
Due out this fall in selected areas, the Nissan Leaf was a definite crowd-pleaser at a Phoenix area mall this afternoon. The fully electric car has a top speed of 90 mph, holds five passengers and has a 100-mile range on a single charge.
A close up of the plug-in area shows multiple outlets. Using an adapter, the Leaf can be plugged into a normal wall outlet for 110-volt charging, or a faster 220-volt line, or the less-than-an-hour service from a charging station.
Charging stations are being built in Phoenix and in other test markets. They’ll also be located at intervals along the Interstate between Phoenix and Tucson.
The interior looked comfortable and surprisingly roomy, with a dashboard made of recycled plastic and the kind of touchscreen instrument panel that fits with the EV’s modern form and function.
One of the car’s high-tech features is its cellphone compatibility. You can program the car to send you a text message when it’s fully charged. Or, when it’s sitting in the garage, battery half-empty and not plugged in, it can text you a reminder to “feed” it.
All this and solar, too?
Yes, the Leaf comes equipped with a small solar panel built into the roof at the back of the car. Not large enough to power the car’s main battery, the panel does keep all electrical accessories charged (lights, radio, etc.)
They weren’t allowing test drives this afternoon, but I may be able to take it on the road this Monday morning. If that happens, I’ll be sure to post about it here.